Conservatives: When it Comes to Eliminating the Individual Mandate, You Have No Idea What You’re Talking About

individual-mandateSince its inception, one of the main talking points against the Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”) Republicans have used is the “evil” individual mandate.  They claim the individual mandate is big government run amok and it’ll destroy our health care industry.

Both claims, of course, are absolutely absurd.  I’ve never known a business model where more business was a bad thing.  Well, unless you want to continue to allow the health care industry to pick and choose who they want to treat, often denying coverage to people who actually need it.  Which is something “Obamacare” now prevents from happening.  I’m sure the health industry would love to only give coverage to healthy people who never require treatment and deny everyone else.  Talk about a solid business model—for them.

Actually, many Republicans have said they support the fact that Americans with pre-existing conditions can no longer be denied health insurance.  Hell, many Republicans have said they support many aspects to the Affordable Care Act.  For another example look no further than children being able to stay on their parents’ health insurance longer than before.

There have been numerous polls that show even conservative voters like the provisions in “Obamacare” when broken up individually.  They just don’t care for the law when presented in its entirety and almost always fiercely oppose the individual mandate.

But when it comes down to it, the main Republican argument I hear against “Obamacare” almost always ties into the mandate in some way.

I will admit, the government telling you that you must purchase insurance is kind of a hard pill to swallow.  I get that.

However, for “Obamacare” to work and Americans with pre-existing conditions to continue to get coverage (many of whom are children), the mandate is essential.

See, insurance as an industry — be it auto, renter’s or whichever — is predicated on the idea of millions of people paying into a large pool of money to lessen costs should something tragic happen like a break in, car accident or whatever the insurance aims to cover.  If you don’t have insurance, you don’t get the benefit of coverage.

However, when it comes to health care, those without insurance can simply walk into an emergency room and get treatment.  Granted, this isn’t the traditional form of “health coverage” we’re talking about when someone has health insurance, but it is a means for which people without insurance can receive treatment.

But the catch is, much of this treatment is never paid for.  In fact, many people visit the emergency room knowing they’ll never have a way to pay for the treatment they’ll receive.  And guess who pays for that?  It sure isn’t the hospitals.  It’s everyone who does pay for insurance or health treatments.  Hospitals simply pass on the losses they experience due to those who use the emergency room for their “insurance” to everyone else who does pay.  So, like it or not, when you’re paying for insurance—you’re always paying a part for another person’s health care coverage.

Because that’s what insurance is to begin with.  It goes back to that “pool of money” paid in by millions of people.  Insurance as a service is predicated on the fact that most people will end up paying in more to their policies than they ever receive.  Your rates and premiums are always a reflection not just of your habits, but the habits of those who are considered “higher risk individuals.”

Take for instance auto insurance.  Granted, the argument conservatives will make is that we don’t have to drive, therefore only those who choose to drive are required to purchase car insurance.  And that’s true.  But what’s also true is the vast majority of Americans do drive, therefore that argument is essentially invalid.

Now, imagine for a moment if auto insurance wasn’t required in order to drive.  How many fewer Americans would actually have insurance?  Hell, as it stands now, millions of Americans still continue to drive without liability insurance.  Why do you think insurance companies offer uninsured motorists insurance?  That specific coverage is meant to protect you against an accident with someone who’s breaking the law.

But let’s say auto insurance wasn’t mandated in order to drive.  What would happen then?  Well, it’s pretty simple.  Millions of Americans would only obtain auto insurance after they experienced some kind of “auto tragedy.”  Then, whatever insurance company they decided to seek coverage from, would end up paying out thousands to an individual based on that individual paying a fraction of what they were receiving.  If this were allowed to happen, auto insurance companies would do what health insurance companies currently do.  They’d simply jack up the rates for those who do pay for insurance to cover the losses experienced by those who simply choose to “insurance hop” whenever something comes up and they decide they need coverage.  After all, when we pay auto insurance we’re already paying more for the bad driving habits of others.  Imagine if people were allowed to get auto insurance after they had an auto accident?

This is why it’s vital for auto insurance to be “mandated” for any individual who would step behind the wheel of a vehicle.

It’s the same concept for health insurance.  If we’re going to treat “higher risk” individuals who were unfortunately born with some kind of pre-existing condition, our laws must mandate that every American obtain some form of health insurance.  That law must then also require that the insurance purchased actually provides real coverage, not just the illusion of coverage.  Which is what you’re seeing in the form of some people losing their old insurance policies.

See, those policies provided next to no coverage.  Sure, they might have given them some coverage, but it wasn’t comprehensive enough to actually protect them (and the rest of us) from something catastrophic happening.  Which is the whole premise behind any kind of insurance to begin with.  It’s paying for something with the hope that nothing bad will happen, but it’s “peace of mind” to know that if something horrible does happen—you’re covered.

So, when Republicans talk about supporting provisions in the Affordable Care Act such as covering those individuals with pre-existing conditions or keeping children on their parents’ insurance longer, while opposing the individual mandate—they’re only proving their ignorance about understanding the nature of insurance.

We can not have a law that says all Americans must be given equal access to health treatment regardless of their health, then say, “But health insurance isn’t mandatory for Americans to have.”

If you want to talk about sky-high premiums, try having a system where people with pre-existing conditions can hop on and off insurance plans, only paying when they need some kind of treatment.  That would be the catalyst to unheard of insurance rates for those who choose to be responsible consumers.

Then, if you choose to scrap the whole law, you’re then advocating a return to a system where people who suffer from some form of pre-existing condition are discriminated against because of something they can’t help.  I’m not talking about someone who chooses to smoke cigarettes and get sick.  I’m talking about an individual born with or acquiring early in life a disease such as diabetes, who had nothing to do with their unfortunate health condition, being subject to a life of fear and discrimination as it relates to their health care.  And that’s just one example of countless diseases and conditions that we’re talking about here.

And I’m sorry, if that’s what you’re advocating, you should be ashamed of yourself.

So, while Republicans stand on a pedestal preaching the horrors of the individual mandate, I only see a group of people who are so lost in their own rhetoric they seem unable to understand that nothing they’re saying makes sense.

Oh, and let’s not forget that the “individual mandate” was originally a Republican idea.  The only reason we have this law in its current form is because Republicans fiercely oppose true universal health care.  You know, something almost every modern country around the world already has.  There would be no “mandate” if we simply ushered our health care industry into the 21st century and had socialized health care.

And don’t tell me about the horrors of government run health care.  Nearly every leading nation around the world, as far as average life expectancy is concerned, has socialized health care.  If socialized health care was so detrimental to the health of human beings, why would people in these countries be living longer lives than Americans?

So, where does the United States rank on that list?  Twenty-seventh.  Between Chile and the Czech Republic—two places ahead of Mexico.  That’s just embarrassing.  So don’t tell me socialized health care is a bad thing.

But until that day happens where we pass true socialized health care — and trust me, that day will come — we’re left with the Affordable Care Act.  A law that requires a mandate that every American purchase insurance for it to work.   And there’s simply no way around it.  If you want Americans with pre-existing conditions to be covered equally like every other American, then there must be a mandate that states every American is required to have health insurance.

A mandate that Republicans continue to relentlessly attack.  Yet, while doing so, only continually prove they don’t know what in the hell they’re talking about.

Image via CagleCartoons.com

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.

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